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Aging

I got my start in evolutionary medicine as an undergraduate fascinated by the problem of why alleles that speed aging persist.  It was 1965, so my professors did not quite notice that my proposed explanation was based on group selection.  But when I got to the University of Michigan and began spending hours with some of the world's best biologists, they did not hold back for a second.  "Where were you educated, Nesse?  Don't you even know the problem with group selection?"  I got busy and found the Williams 1957 classic that proposed antagonistic pleiotropy. My eyes opened.  And, I dug further into the stacks to find a way to quantitatively estimate the relative importance of pleiotropy and mutation accumulation in different species in the wild.  Soon I met George, and we realized that an evolutionary perspective could be brought to bear on every area of medicine.


Nesse RM: An evolutionary perspective on senescence. Philosophy and Medicine, 26:45-64, Ethical Dimensions of Geriatric Care, Spicker SF, Ingman SR, Lawson IR (eds), D. Ridel, l987.

Nesse RM: Life table tests of evolutionary theories of senescence, Experimental Gerontology 23: 445-453, 1988.

Nesse RM: The evolution of senescence (letter). The New England Journal of Medicine, 310:660, 1984.

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